That we’re even having this conversation is a testament to how desperate things can get this time of year. With a couple days for teams to protect prospects from the Rule 5 Draft and the Winter Meetings still a few weeks away, there isn’t a lot of action. You know what that means: trade proposals.
We’ve come up with some of those ourselves and I see the merit in them as harmless trial balloons, but sometimes…woof. I don’t really care if people throw stones at my glass house for that, because I’m actually squatting here and won’t have to replace the windows either way. So it is that I wanted to take a look at a recent proposal that has gotten a little online steam recently.
John Harper of SNY.tv put together four potential trade packages for the Yankees’ Miguel Andujar, the last of which was a straight-up swap for Kyle Schwarber. Andujar has apparently been drawing interest from other teams, something GM Brian Cashman has publicly acknowledged, and he became somewhat expendable with the emergence of Gio Urshela. Even so, Andujar will only be 25 in March and he’s got plenty of talent.
“Andujar’s ceiling as a hitter is so high that I’m not sure the Yankees could get anywhere near the value they should for him,” a scout told Harper. “He’s got an innate ability to make contact, square the ball up and hit it hard, which everybody saw in his rookie year, and he’ll only get better as he continues to see major-league pitching.”
At the same time, you’re talking about a guy who missed all but 12 games in 2019 due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. Not ideal for a third baseman whose throwing motion was already jacked up and whose footwork is questionable at best. So why would the Cubs trade Schwarber for Andujar?
Well, they wouldn’t. But Harper’s logic here seems to be that Theo Epstein is itching to make trades just for the hell of it, which could mean moving Kris Bryant. That opens and hole at third base the Cubs could fill by trading Schwarber, which would then leave them with a hole in left…and two gaping holes in the lineup that Andujar alone could never hope to fill.
Then you have to look at a Yankees outfield that already boasts Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton at the corners. Wait…this is the mythical Schwarber-to-American-League-as-DH scenario! But the Yankees are bringing Brett Gardner back and have some other guys capable of DH’ing as well, so trading for Schwarber seems a little odd.
Don’t get me wrong, Andujar is legit at the plate. He’s the type of contact hitter the Cubs are looking for and he could really be dangerous if the power develops a little further as he ages. He’s also cheap because he won’t hit arbitration until 2020 and isn’t a free agent until 2023. That’s really the only way a trade would make any sense, with the Cubs desperately slashing payroll by swapping Schwarber’s projected $8 million salary and Bryant’s $18 million for Andujar’s $618,000.
But if we’re looking at it in that regard, Schwarber really serves as a surrogate for Nicholas Castellanos, who the Cubs are unlikely to re-sign as his market exceeds what they’re willing to spend in free agency. If that cost-consciousness extends to Bryant, which it shouldn’t, there’s no way the Cubs could replace the firepower they’d be losing without paying someone. But that would defeat the whole purpose of the trade(s).
For as much crap as people give Bryant for his defense, Andujar makes him look like Nolan Arenado’s bigger, more adept brother. And that’s before consider how Andujar’s shoulder surgery. Simply put, it’s a terrible fit for a team that was laid low in part by its infield defense last year. But in the interest of fairness, the Andujar-for-Schwarber trade might be the least objectionable of the four proposed.
The first had a return of Max Fried and Tucker Davidson from the Braves; the second was Jo Adell from the Angels; the third was Matt Manning from the Tigers. Execs from each of those teams would laugh in Cashman’s face before he finished making any of those asks. However frivolous this all seems, there may be some things to take away from this and other wacky speculation.
The biggest is that trade proposals should be for entertainment purposes only and the person making them should not take themselves very seriously. I don’t make them as a general rule, even when asked, because it’s just not my jam. That doesn’t mean they can’t be legit, but as our Michael Canter has noted, it’s a matter of setting up the proper context for the framework of the deal you’re laying out.
The next takeaway is that there are going to be wide gulfs in how players are valued, and that needs to be taken into account. While MLB execs don’t typically fall prey to the rampant meatballery of your average fan, they are certainly subject to a little bias when it comes to their evaluation of players. That could mean overvaluing their own players why undervaluing those on other teams.
Finally, you have to consider fit, including position(s) played, salary, health, etc. The Cubs may be looking to trim the payroll fat, but trading Schwarber and Bryant with Andujar as the main cog of a reworked left side of the defense is like cutting off your leg because you want to lose weight. It’ll do the trick, but you’re going to lose every ass-kicking contest for the rest of your life.
I don’t know if you’ve been watching lately, but the Cubs can’t really afford to kick less ass moving forward. So this trade is bad and Harper should probably feel bad for proposing it, but it’s neither the worst nor the last we’re going to see.